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November 15, 2004
NYT Says Republican Gains In South Erode Political Center

The New York Times's Robin Toner analyzes the political realignment taking place in the South and concludes that the nation has become more polarized since Democrats have lost ground in their traditional center of power. However, Toner uses contradictory racial arguments and ironically engages in a bigoted fallacy about Republicans to reach her conclusion:

In the new Congress, only 4 of the 22 senators from the 11 states of the old Confederacy will be Democrats, the lowest number since Reconstruction; as recently as 1990, 15 of those Southern senators were Democrats. In the House, the Democrats suffered smaller but still significant losses in Texas, where a Republican redistricting plan took down a group of veteran lawmakers, including the paradigmatic Southern conservative: Representative Charles W. Stenholm, a 13-term deficit hawk and longtime leader of the Blue Dog Democrats, a group of centrists in the House.

This moment has been a long time coming. Ever since the national Democratic Party fully embraced the cause of civil rights 40 years ago, shattering its hold on the so-called solid South, Republicans have been making steady inroads among culturally conservative white voters in the region. But the acceleration of this trend is important for the next Congress: some of these Southern Democrats, along with Northeastern Republicans, were among the last remaining lawmakers in the political center of an increasingly polarized House and Senate.

This, of course, can only reflect reality as long as one believes that only Democrats can shepherd the political center. It's a narrow-minded view that holds all Republicans as extremists in lockstep with one another, a view which should amuse the GOP faithful taking part in the Arlen Specter debate on my blog. All that has changed is that the political center has moved from Southern "Blue Dog" Democrats to Northeastern and Western GOP members of both sections of Congress.

The GOP controls the center now, a major change from decades gone by, and the Gray Lady despairs at the thought. The desperation comes through in Toner's analysis, where she blames the loss of Southern power on the Democrats' support of civil-rights legislation 40 years ago instead of their party's radicalization over the past ten years, contradicting herself in at least two places in her analysis:

Merle Black, an expert on Southern politics at Emory University in Atlanta, noted that for much of the 20th century, Southern Democrats used their clout and their safe seats on Capitol Hill to "defend the South against civil rights legislation." But after Lyndon B. Johnson and the national Democratic Party pushed through the major civil rights legislation of the 1960's - a move that Mr. Johnson is said to have said at the time would cost his party the South - Democrats in the region became adept at the art of biracial politics.

Southern Democrats of Mr. Breaux's generation were canny coalition builders. In the 1970's and beyond, they continued to exercise substantial power in both the House and the Senate, rising by virtue of their seniority to run many of the major committees. They began to suffer some of their heaviest losses in the Reagan era, as the Republican realignment gathered steam in the region.

However, earlier in her analysis Toner reminded her readers that Democrats held two-thirds of all Southern Senate seats as late as 1990, and that was before the South helped elect Bill Clinton. Also, if the Democrats became adept at "biracial politics", then why would supporting civil-rights legislation in 1965 have torpedoed them in 2000, 2002, and 2004? And how can Toner explain Republican ascendancy in the South given that civil-rights legislation had been sponsored by the GOP and had to be pushed through a recalcitrant Democratic caucus?

The Democrats lost the center because they've allowed their party to be led by extremists like James Carville and Terry McAuliffe and represented and funded by the likes of Barbra Streisand, Whoopi Goldberg, and the Stalinists at International ANSWER. Over the past two years especially, Democrats have clearly shown that they do not represent the center or any moderate positions but have devolved into a poorly-organized fiefdom run by antiwar extremists and politically-correct nannycops. If the New York Times considers that the center of political thought in the US, they need to hire analysts that get outside of the Upper West Side more often.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 15, 2004 6:20 AM

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» That Evil GOP South from Pirate's Cove
Captain Ed has a good take on the the Grey Lady's article on [Read More]

Tracked on November 15, 2004 7:30 AM

» Democrat's Twist on Reality from Flopping Aces
Even after this election they can't get a grip with a reality. When will they figure out that the Michael Moore's, Whoopi Goldberg's, and Sean Penn's of their party are alienating them from the center. [Read More]

Tracked on November 15, 2004 6:01 PM

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